Similarly situated refers to one class of persons being alike in all relevant ways to another class for purposes of a particular decision or issue. The term is commonly used in racial discrimination cases in which the plaintiff may seek to show that they were treated differently from others who were similarly situated except for the alleged basis of discrimination.
For example, in Lizardo v. Denny’s Inc., the Second Circuit found that a restaurant did not discriminate against a group of Asian American patrons because they were not similarly situated to the white group. The restaurant seated the white group of patrons before the Asian American group, even though the Asian American group arrived earlier. The court found the two were not similarly situated because the white group was significantly smaller, a significant factor in restaurant seating. In another example, in West v. City of Houston, the Fifth Circuit defined when employees alleging employment discrimination under Title VII are similarly situated to other employees who allegedly did not suffer from such discrimination. It required a showing that they hold the same job or responsibilities, that they shared the same supervisor or have their employment status determined by the same person, and have essentially comparable violation histories.
[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]